Washington Licensing Overview for a Cosmetologist

Licensing for cosmetologist in Washington is controlled by the Washington State Department of Licensing-Cosmetologists.

General Guidelines for a Cosmetologist in Washington

Specific requirements to perform cosmetologist services can generally be used as a guideline, but make sure to check with your local governing rules and regulations.

Who’s allowed to perform these services?

Cosmetologist

General requirements for cosmetologist license required?

At least 17 years old

What’s the state licensing site for cosmetologist?

Washington State Department of Licensing-Cosmetologists

What are some training programs available for cosmetologist?

See training programs

How long is a license good for and when do I need to renew?

Renew every 2 years

What are fees associated with licensing?

$55

Cosmetologist / Esthetician Licensing

A cosmetologist is a beauty professional who specializes in the beautification and health of their client’s hair, skin and nails. An esthetician is a beauty professional that specializes in the beautification and health of their client’s skin, particularly through hair removal, skin and facial treatments and the application of makeup. With additional training, a cosmetologist can become an esthetician and vice versa. While there are fundamental differences between cosmetologists and estheticians as we have just explained, the process of becoming licensed within each career is almost the same. With this being said, the process of being a fully licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician varies between each state.

The following pages look at the detailed information on individual state licensing to help give you the best advice as you move forward in your career path.

There are four main steps that need to be completed to become a qualified cosmetologist / esthetician in the state of Washington. These include:

  1. The successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course
  2. Submission of an application of intent with the Washington State Department of Licensing,
  3. Successfully undergo state testing and pass the minimum requirements of each test
  4. Maintain your knowledge base through regular education to keep your cosmetologist / esthetician license current.

Education

There are basic educational requirements needed before one can become a licensed cosmetologist and/or esthetician in the state of Washington. The minimum education requirement for this profession is a certificate or diploma in cosmetology / esthetician undertaken at a registered beauty school. To successfully complete this course, students are required to undertake a minimum of 2000 hours of training before they can be signed off. For further training, some beauticians may choose to gain an associate degree to boost their qualifications. For those looking to begin their own start up business, an associate degree is quite a desirable skill to possess. 

To become an esthetician, students are required to undertake 750 hours of coursework at a registered school of estheticians.  

Another popular method in which to become a standard cosmetologist in the state of Washington is through an apprenticeship. For those wishing to undertake an apprenticeship instead of attending a registered beauty school, they will need to be accepted under the charge of a licensed cosmetologist and complete three years and 3000 supervised hours within the field. Apprenticeships for estheticians last for 600 hours. 

Licensing Exam

The state of Washington requires students who wish to become fully licensed as either a cosmetologist or an esthetician to successfully pass a licensing exam. Washington uses the company Ergometric/National Testing Network (NTN) as their examination administers. This exam consists of two parts: a theoretical exam, and a practical exam. 

The cosmetology theory exam covers the following topics:

  • Scientific concepts
  • Hair care and services
  • Skin care and services
  • Nail care and services

The esthetician theory exam will cover topics such as:

  • Microbiology
  • Infection Control
  • Safety Procedures
  • Cells and tissues
  • Systems and Functions
  • Skin care
  • Cleansing, steaming and exfoliation
  • Massage

The cosmetology practical exam requires professionals to bring their own equipment. The practical exam will typically look at a range of areas of the profession including (but not limited to):

  • Maintaining a safe work environment
  • Hair set up
  • Hair removal
  • Hair cutting
  • Hair coloring  

The esthetician practical exam requires professionals to bring their own equipment. The practical exam will typically look at a range of areas of the profession including (but not limited to):

  • Hygienic set up
  • Facial cleansing
  • Hair removal
  • Makeup application
  • Facial mask

Application for licensure

Upon the successful completion of a cosmetology / esthetician course or an apprenticeship, students within the state of Washington are required to submit an application for licensure. This license application must be submitted to Washington State Department of Licensing for both a cosmetology license and an esthetician license. All educational transcripts and exam outcomes as well as identification documents must be attached to the application, along with the application fee.  

Continuing Education

Following the successful completion of your state license to become either a cosmetology or an esthetician, it is important to remember that you must renew this license every two years. This process is simple and can be done online through the Washington State Department of Licensing. Professionals will be notified of the fee cost when they log in online.

In the state of Washington, there are no continuing Educational requirements for cosmetology or esthetician licenses, however, many professionals continue to grow their expertise. This allows them to stay up to date with the latest techniques and trends in the field of beauty.

Location(s):

Washington